Words are uniquely human tools – well, generally speaking. And often, we know what they exactly mean. But there is another uniquely human phenomenon – twisting the meaning of ordinary words to give them an unfamiliar ring. Some people have more ability to distort than others. You might call this inverted expertise. For others, distortion is part of their professional rule book.
In the simple, old-fashioned way, what I am describing is called lying. And I was taught that lying is a sin for which we will be punished. If we do a lot of it we might even burn in hell for ever.
Obviously, the catechism on which I was brought up must be different from that on which the international human rights army and UN people were raised. Apparently they have never heard of lying, or if they have, it has a different meaning and moral connotation from what I know.
Which brings me back to words and their meaning. Take the word “justice”, for instance. Ordinarily, it should not cause confusion. It has to do with right and fairness and can never be taken for vindictiveness. And yet when referring to Eastern DRC, this seems to the meaning Human Rights Watch and other rights groups have given it. Certainly, this is what one reads into their actions.
Lately they have renewed their clamour for the arrest and prosecution of a certain Bosco Ntaganda for alleged crimes against humanity. The reason they give for raising the noise is that his arrest and conviction will deliver justice to his alleged victims. Really? Is this the motive? And, pray, how the victims receive justice? I am certain they will get no reparations for what they lost, or counselling to cope with their traumatic experiences. Nor will the maimed, the wounded and the raped receive any treatment, or the orphaned and widowed get any consolation.
But you can be sure there will be a collective smirk of satisfaction on the lips of the rights crusade, and more money in their coffers.
We have said in these pages that if indeed he has committed the crimes for which he is being accused, he should be held accountable. There were many opportunities to arrest him. None was taken. He lived, dined and wined with his accusers, but none touched him.
And now that there is a mutiny started because a peace arrangement the UN and rights groups were supposed to guarantee broke down, they are calling for Ntaganda’s head.
In the single-minded pursuit of one man, they ignore the war raging in the East of DRC. Hundreds of innocent Congolese civilians continue to die at the hands of various armed groups. Hundreds of thousands flee their homes into neighbouring countries. Countless others are displaced. Untold amounts of property have been destroyed. The groups clamouring for justice are silent about these atrocities because all their attention is fixed on one man.
The question that arises from this strange, but not unexpected priority is this: What is the price for going after one man; even he is the most horrible criminal? One million lives? Two, three million? Can such cost be justified in terms of justice or morally?
Let us be blunt. There are unsavoury things happening in DRC, and they are not caused by M23 or Ntaganda. These are only responding to what is going on. What is happening is that there is an attempt to denationalise a section of the Congolese. Our righteous friends are not saying anything about it. Probably they see nothing wrong with it because their catechism did not teach them that forcefully taking away what belongs to another is a sin.
In the extreme, what is happening in Eastern DRC is ethnic cleansing, and if allowed to go unchecked will turn into genocide.
Although the rights brigade want to blame the mess in Congo on other people, they have a big share of the responsibility. In fact they can be said to be responsible for the murder, rape, dispossession and displacement of Congolese civilians.
Again the question: Don’t these people deserve justice? Are their lives so valueless that they can be sacrificed in the hunt for one individual?
Murder is a mortal sin, according to the catechism I was taught. It said nothing about mass murder, but I imagine it must be mortal sin multiplied may times, and the punishment must surely be commensurate with the crime. Going by this, Human Rights Watch activists and others like them should burn many times over for their sins against the Congolese. Then we would say, “justice” has been done” and it will not be a distortion.